LINCOLN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A small plane crashed in Lincolnton early Tuesday morning, killing two people on board.
The deadly crash happened in a field off Jack Dellinger Road near the Lincoln County Airport. A citizen noticed a low-flying plane in the area and discovered the crash before calling officials.
The downed plane was discovered several hundred yards from the landing strip.
The pilot and passenger, identified by troopers as 63-year-old Teddy Heavner and 54-year-old Basil "Todd" Sain, both of Lincolnton, were killed.
The two were headed to the annual airshow in Oskosh, Wisconsin.
"They did everything together... best buddies," said Sain's brother-in-law, Steve Warren.
Sain's wife, Rose Ellen, said the two were well-loved by a lot of people and will be missed.
"They loved God, they loved their families and friends, and they were doing what they loved to do," she said.
The pilot, Heavner, was involved in a crash landing last year in Alexander County. According to FAA reports, the same plane involved in Tuesday's crash was involved in that incident as well.
In the 2017 incident, Heavner told investigators the engine made a noise and seemed to have trouble getting fuel. When switching tanks did not work, he tried to land in a hayfield north of Taylorsville. The aircraft did suffer minor damage and Heavner walked away. His family says he only got the plane back in the past couple weeks, but did take some test flights - and everything appeared to check out.
Investigators from the NTSB will be looking at all of that including Heavner's license status, weather, and mechanical records as a matter of routine. There is no word yet on when a preliminary cause of this accident will be determined.
Troopers say the plane, a 1977 Piper, was owned by Heavner.
The crash marks the first fatality at the airport in 32 years since the Lincoln County Airport has been open.